Artificial Intelligence: Why automakers are redesigning cars and suppliers

Artificial Intelligence: Why automakers are redesigning cars and suppliers

For not hearing about GPT Chat, Googles Bard, etc, you must be living under a tech rock. Each of these powerful Artificial Intelligence (AI) agents spread the news with varying degrees of reception or scorn, for example, Forbes recently published two articles five hours apart titled Why AI Must thrive: our world needs it and we should stop developing AI for the sake of humanity. And for those who have dabbled with the applications, duplicity of power and danger is all but inevitable: intelligent rest paragraphs or answers emerge seemingly instantaneously based on any simpleton’s suggestions. For the masses, however, the practical applications are harder to visualize, let alone imagine the reshaping of an industry. AI will unleash a new level of productivity and innovation, predicts Ludovic Hauduc, CTO of Envorso and former vice president of engineering for Meta (responsible for their AI infrastructure). Just as a large percentage of jobs from the 1950s no longer exist today, it is likely that 30% of all current jobs will be reshaped in some way over the next 2-3 years through automation. The speed of innovation around AI is unlike any technological shift we’ve seen before. And that’s exactly what’s happening in multiple arenas with the automotive industry no different, especially with significant changes (and potential pitfalls) in applications, architectures, and vendor integrations.

Applications and features

A metaphorical passenger recently commuting on the same Serious-Media-Hype Bus as AI has been self-driving, but AI-powered applications work worldwide in vehicles beyond just self-driving. These range from improved in-vehicle user experiences using more enjoyable drives (based on human behavioral sensing) to user favorite music (based on user and community ratings or jumps) to better chances of survival (data algorithms constantly evolving to detect the environment and driving patterns). Each application or information gateway collects data from in-vehicle sensors, shares it in the cloud, allows centralized servers to improve algorithms for everyone, and simultaneously uses user-specific data and community data for tailored improvements but crowdsourced.

Automotive novices believe this is a recent transformation. Silicon Valley has transformed the world. True, yet no. Connected vehicles started to become mainstream in the mid-1990s, and the adaptation of on-board data has informed applications such as predictive maintenance for 15-20 years.

However, enablers such as improved semiconductors, cellular networks, and in-vehicle computer networks have made it easier for information to flow from all parts of the vehicle, and thus, almost a stake for the competition. We are entering a new era, Thomas Weber, head of development at Mercedes-Benz, told Reuters in an interview. Until now, cars have kept the properties they had the day they were purchased.

Architectures and Vehicles

To allow for this adaptation, many underlying design changes have been and will take place. Computing will be centralized both in-vehicle to enable low-cost efficient edge computing, for example, moving from 70-80 separate boxes per vehicle to just a few supercomputers, and out-of-vehicle to enable better learning across the entire fleet. In this, the few established in-vehicle processors will be designed for phone-like extensibility and the computing architecture must allow future applications to sit on a platform that can evolve far beyond the metal and gears manufacturing date . To numerically describe that expansion, the 2016 Ford F150 had 150 million lines of code, while newer vehicles are estimated to reach a billion (1 billion) lines, not including off-vehicle (cloud) software. Designing for the extensibility of a product that will be launched in 3-4 years and will be in the field for 10-15 years requires a superior and flexible architecture.

We are the architects of our own operating system, a chip-to-cloud architecture that enables the decoupling of software and hardware, Mercedes-Benz CEO Ola Kllenius told investors in April. We are on our way to becoming a software company as well. We will put supercomputer performance into every single Mercedes.

Strategies from manufacturers like these are a big part of why NVIDIA stock exploded 30% last week with another 38% growth expected.

Integrations of suppliers, sector and value

In Kllenius’ words, the automotive industry is rapidly changing behind what is normally mentioned in the press about electrification and automation: its softwarification (pronounced soft-WAR-if-ah-kay-shun). Manufacturers have realized that commercial differentiation, complex integration, and data security require them to actively control a greater percentage of exploding software both inside and outside the vehicle. Sometimes buying software is similar to buying the manufacturing tools for hardware or sometimes it is as extreme as buying companies for their software development capabilities, for example, GM buying Cruise Automation in 2016, Ford which acquires the BlackBerry team in 2017, Stellantis to spend upwards of $34 billion on growth, including the purchase of aiMotive in 2022.

Whether organic or inorganic growth, this industry shift will require a new capability that has historically been difficult for most manufacturers: OEM-supplier co-development. Since the vendor must provide supercomputers with sufficient processing power, they must develop the basic non-differentiating software and then integrate the vendor’s code, which has traditionally caused integration quality and project coordination issues. Finding automated ways to continuously share and integrate code requires coordination from both parties, suggests Envorsos CEO and former Lincoln chief Scott Tobin. This allows both companies to understand the unfolding truth with transparency from start to finish.

And without that transparency, AI will be the winner.

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#Artificial #Intelligence #automakers #redesigning #cars #suppliers

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